The recent passage of the State Children’s Health Insurance Plan (SCHIP) is proof. PICO National Network was a key player nationwide in pressuring representatives in both chambers of Congress to act on this historic, important plan to provide health coverage to all kids in the United States. The amazing thing about the SCHIP signing a few weeks ago was that PICO affiliate members—community leaders from local organizing committees around the country—were sitting next to First Lady Michelle Obama, in the front row.
Yes, PICO National has arrived. And we have our leaders to thank. Another example of Federal issues coming home is the impact of federal stimulus money through the American Recover and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) will have on our communities. Will low-income families have a place at the table? Will they have a voice in shaping policy around where this money will go, where it will be invested, and what communities it will “stimulate”? If we are to have a place at the table, if we are to have a voice, then we need to track down answers to questions from those who will be asking for the money—mayors, city manager, and county supervisors.
There is a lot of work to be done. Our leaders are tirelessly placing moral and practical demands on public officials to do what is right—create jobs for the lowest 20% wage earners, provide job- and green-training, employ local companies benefiting local workers, and invest in after-school programs, community clinics, and police patrols that keep our neighborhoods safe. Whether it’s health care, the economy, or other issues at the Federal level, our leaders will continue to be challenged by more than just local concerns. OCCCO is also an important part of what happens county, state, and nationwide.